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Getting Started with Technology Integration in Your Classroom

| Mary Beth Hertz

Since I have started this blog in the summertime, I figured it would be appropriate to start discussing, thinking about and planning for the coming school year. As such, this post will focus on planning curriculum, projects and lessons that are aligned with technology standards.

Whether you are a veteran teacher who is comfortable integrating technology into your lessons, a new teacher just starting out or a mid-career teacher wanting to start integrating more technology into your lessons (or any mixture of the above), the first place to start is the National Educational Technology Standards for Students (NETS*S) developed by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). These standards are a great framework for planning lessons and projects that combine technology literacy with academic standards and critical thinking skills.

The NETS Standards can be found on ISTE's website and also through their new mobile app for the iPhone. There are NETS for Students, Teachers and Administrators. It is a good idea to peruse the Teacher Standards to see how you 'measure up.' The NETS*S are broken up into six strands:

  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Communication and Collaboration
  • Research and Information Fluency
  • Critical Thinking, Problem Solving and Decision Making
  • Digital Citizenship
  • Technology Operations and Concepts

These strands include skills and concepts that you are hopefully already addressing in your classroom, thought they stress how technology will aid you in addressing these standards.

For example, if your students are writing stories, you can tie your project into the sixth strand by having your students choose how they want to tell their stories (i.e. VoiceThread, Comic Life, word processing, video). In addition, you are tying into the first strand by allowing your students to create original works as a means of personal expression. This project can also be tied to the second strand if you begin to incorporate social media or allow your students to post their work online and allow for others to view it and comment on it. Should you allow your students to work in teams or groups and collaborate using tools like Google Docs or a wiki, you have also tied into the second strand. Guiding your students through proper etiquette when posting and commenting on work will tie your lesson directly to the fifth strand.

By incorporating the NETS*S into your lessons you will be forced to look at your teaching differently as well as your students' learning process. I personally believe that learning for many students is social. In addition, purpose for learning is vital for student understanding and critical thinking. By incorporating tools into your teaching that allow students to contribute meaningful, personal work to the 'real world' and share their work with more than just the teacher, you can transform your teaching. This is how we really should be thinking about technology integration. Of course it will change what you do and how you do it, but think about how you can transform what you teach and how you teach. Just having students type an essay in a word processing application will not do much to change what you are teaching or what they are learning.

So as you prepare for this coming year, pull out a few ideas you have or a few lessons you've found successful and begin to analyze them through the filter of the NETS*S. Consider what you can do to incorporate them and consider how this incorporation can transform the lesson itself.

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Comments (43)

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K-8 Technology Teacher in Philadelphia, PA

Phys Ed and Technology

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Very cool! I would love to hear more about how you use tech with PE as the year progresses! Feel free to contact me if you have any neat stories or exciting moments to share!

K-8 Technology Teacher in Philadelphia, PA

Bonnie

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I'm assuming you mean my description of addressing the NETS that I put in the post? I will be following up with more specific tools as the series progresses. I am always open for suggestions for blog post topics (i.e. specific tools or lessons), so feel free to leave one in the comment area!

K-8 Technology Teacher in Philadelphia, PA

DG3

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I'm not sure that I could tell you 'one tool' that you should use in your classroom until I know more about what you want to do differently this year or what your classroom structure is like. A tool that I think is amazing may not fit in with what you are doing with your students.

If I could make one suggestion it would be to have a class website or blog as an online 'home base.' You can get these free by creating a website on Wikispaces (http://wikispaces.com) or PBworks (http://pbworks.com). You can blog at Edublogs (http://edublogs.org)or create a free website through Google sites (http://google.com/sites).

A site is a great place to put up information, important links and student work. It is also a great way to make your classroom walls more transparent for parents.

K-8 Technology Teacher in Philadelphia, PA

Laura and J. Bickley

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First of all, Laura, I am so happy to hear of all of the supports your district is giving you with technology! I completely agree with both of you that integrating technology is not easy and can be overwhelming. My suggestion is to think of a lesson that you want to improve or a subject area that your students do not perform well in. These would be good places to use technology to transform what you are doing with your students.

My next post will share some places to look for tools to use in the classroom, so hopefully that will help you both.

My only advice is to avoid picking a tool because it is "cool." Really think about its educational value and how it will help your students meet the learning goals you have set up for them.

K-8 Technology Teacher in Philadelphia, PA

Phil

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Thanks, Phil, for your insight. I agree that teachers need differentiated instruction just like students do. We all learn in different ways. I would argue, however, that the NETS are far from complicated, unlike many state standards that I have run into.

That said, I think you're approaching things the right way. We should always plan our academic goals FIRST and then think of ways that technology can transform our lesson. It is then that we look to the NETS to help prevent us from just using a tool because it adds bells and whistles to our lesson. They help prevent superficial uses of technology.

Thanks for your advice!

Suggestions and Comments

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Integrating technology is not always easy, especially when both the teacher and the students must learn the technology being used. I agree with Morgan, I think it is overwhelming for teachers, especially some of the ones that never dealt with such technology before, to integrate technology into the daily lessons. It would be great to see more ideas or tools listed for using technology, especially in the lower grades. Also, some of the technology ideas listed could use some explanation. I am glad you included the link to NETS. I had never seen the standards for technology integration.
Bonnie

Incorporating Technology in Physical Education

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At the end of the last school year, our district starting mandating technology workshops that would increase teachers' technology proficiency. After attending several of these workshops, my "eyes" have been opened to a variety of ways technology can be incorporated into the Fine Arts curriculum, especially Physical Education. Upon reading this post, you have directed me to the standards I need to follow and consider when planning technology lessons for my students during the upcoming year. My goal this year is to provide my students with opportunities to discover that there's more to the Physical Education curriculum besides games, and prove to teachers that there's more to Physical Education than just "free time."

Literacy Coach Grades 7-12

Planning to follow your efforts!

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I will be taking on the role of "Literacy Coach" for the coming school year. I am in the process of modifying the weak description my school started with. My goal is to incorporate the new literacies into the "literacy" aspect of my coaching. We have a school ning, so after reviewing your post you have me thinking about the best avenue to open up the discussion for the potentials of this new 7-12 position and how it can impact all the teachers.

third grade teacher from Columbus, Ohio

Loved the post

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I am a veteran teacher looking to integrate technology into my curriculum. I was inspired by your post and the comments from your post. What is one tool that you would recommend to use in the classroom? I am getting a smartboard in my classroom this year, so I'll be using that as well. Thanks

third grade teacher from Columbus, Ohio

Loved the post

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I am a veteran teacher looking to incorporate technology into my curriculum. I am inspired by your post and the responses from your post. What is one tool that you would use to begin integrating technology into the classroom? I am getting a smartboard this year and will be looking to incorporate it as well. Thank you!

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